One-on-One with “Mr. ECDIS” – Tor Svanes, CEO of NAVTOR
Marinelink caught up with Tor Svanes, CEO, NAVTOR, earlier this year in Oslo.
Your reputation in e-Navigation as ‘Mr. ECDIS’ is well established, but can we discuss performance? Where are you today? Where would you like to be?
We want to be a leading company within performance, which is why we acquired Tres Solutions [in 2021], to speed up that development. At the same time, we are listening to the customers, developing new functionality, and of course now we have the CII and emission [regulations]; they are the biggest things. The biggest part is consulting with customers. They hear a lot of buzzwords, but it’s still hard for them to image what, exactly, this technology can do for them. So we are learning, they are learning, and that's a good combination for us to make the product.
How does NAVTOR fit into that sustainability discussion?
First we set up a person to be ‘the’ sustainable person within NAVTOR. With that, we are talking to banks, financial institutions, as we already have customers with so-called ‘green loans’ because they can show, overtime, savings on fuel and reduction of emissions [using NAVTOR’s technology].
We talk incessantly about data, the need for data, and then once you have that data, what you're going to do with that data. Increasingly too, we talk about AI. Can you discuss what you see in terms of data and AI in maritime today?
There has been a lot of focus on ‘big data’. We don't talk much about big data. We talk about the important data. You don't need all the data they're talking about, and you don't all need them in the frequency that they talk about. But machine learning and AI is definitely something we have to, and are already, implementing in our product and services. And that is to make the life easier for the people on board and the people on shore. In the end, NAVTOR will end up with two platform: one platform on the vessel, one platform on shore [running in sync].
Where are we in terms of the use of data, the effective use of data in maritime?
Somewhere in the middle, I would say. The biggest challenge for all the company, so to say, dealing with performance today, have one big challenge, it's to get hold of the right data. And luckily enough to have its own system. So we collect data we need. We don't need all the other data that you're talking about, but of course a lot of the data could be more useful. Today we talked to somebody doing hull cleaning with a robot. How could we interface to that and show it on the screen onshore, so they can see what the hull look like and what kind of folding they have? So there's a lot of new technology coming that can help the whole performance side of business.
As you know in the technology space, the question is always ‘what have you done for me lately.’ Can you tell us where you see the company going in the next 12 to 24 months?
First of all, this is all about technology, but it's all about making technology in a way that is useful for the user. With the technology, we have to build better systems, and one big thing is, of course, cybersecurity. So we have also put in place one person, a security officer within the company, to take care of that and all the [new and emerging] regulation, as regulation will [continue to] drive a lot of these things. There's a lot of confusion about fuel, the fuel of the future. That’s a challenge because our software, our systems have to relate to what’s going on in the ship. So the challenge is [continual] software development, while building in machine learning and AI, which are crucial element.
NAVTOR and Voyager Worldwide agreed to merge, and the combined company will deliver products and solutions to approximately 18,000 vessels globally. The transaction is expected to close by December 2023.
Both companies provide maritime technology solutions that enable shipping companies to improve safety, efficiency, compliance, and operational performance, and drive business advantages from their maritime fleet.
Greg Trauthwein caught up with Tor Svanes, CEO, NAVTOR, earlier this year in Oslo.
“This is perhaps the biggest day in NAVTOR’s history, and a major development for the maritime technology industry,” said Svanes when the deal was announced in early November 2023. “Here are two different and highly complementary businesses, both of which have built trusted portfolios and relationships with ship owners, operators and managers worldwide. As one company, we will strengthen our position as a global e-Navigation and performance market leader and unlock powerful benefits for customers.”
NAVTOR’s current integrated digital ecosystem offers solutions spanning e-Navigation and performance monitoring and management, including the fleet management platform, NavFleet and digital chart table, NavStation which features advanced passage planning. Voyager offers e-Navigation, vessel management, charts, and publications portfolio.
Both businesses will continue to operate business-as-usual and clients can expect continued support on solutions and services offerings, including the delivery of their contractual obligations.
"Nothing will change in the short term and clients can expect the same level of service and support as before, from NAVTOR and Voyager Worldwide respectively. In particular, Voyager Worldwide will continue to support its clients’ digitalization journey, including those shifting from paper to more digital solutions gradually, as well as supporting clients who still require paper products," the companies said.
"Together with Tor, I see this as an incredible opportunity,” quoted Kent Lee, CEO of Voyager Worldwide. “Both companies will unite Norway and Singapore’s maritime innovation ecosystems to drive maritime innovation to new heights. This represents an enormous opportunity to go after areas where we see tremendous growth potential. NAVTOR’s current offerings will rapidly accelerate and complement the development of our next-gen platform and solutions, advancing new joint innovations within the maritime ecosystem. NAVTOR’s customers can also leverage Voyager’s extensive global presence and deep domain expertise in the maritime industry.”